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Average Congressman Speaks at a High School Level

Speaking level has declined nearly a full grade since 2005


It isn’t just you. Politicians are, in fact, getting dumber, if a recent study by the Sunlight Foundation is any indication. Since 2005, the average grade level a member of Congress speaks with has declined nearly a full school grade.

In 2005, the average member of Congress spoke at a grade level of 11.5. In analysis of speeches given this year by lawmakers, that average fell to 10.6.

Democrats speak at a slightly higher grade level than Republicans do — 10.8 for the former, 10.4 for the latter. However, analysis of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address by the University of Minnesota revealed it was given at an 8th grade comprehension level, the third lowest score for a State of the Union address since 1934.

In comparison, the U.S. Constitution was written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers were written at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence was written at a 15.1 grade level.

Generally speaking, the study found that the more conservative a member of Congress was, the lower grade level his or her speech was. For Republicans, the more conservative members had an almost three grade level drop between them and their more moderate brethren.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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